A few weeks ago I was scrolling through Facebook and caught a glimpse of a post that was so super cool I had to share; it was the video of 95-year-old Colleen Milliman running the mile in the Master’s Heyward Basic Track Event at the University of Oregon.
Not only did Ms. Milliman run, she did it in world record time for her age group at 13:46:13.
Think about that for a moment. First of all living to be 95 years of age is an accomplishment, right? Walking, let alone running, at the age of 95 is pretty out of the ordinary and to do it in 13 minutes and some change?
I bet there are some of you out there that would be hard pressed to finish a mile in 13 minutes! So how in the world does someone whose chronological age says she should be sitting in a rocker on the porch set a world record? Odds are her “real” age is that of a much younger woman.
Our biological age is how many trips we have made around the sun, while our real age is based on our physical and mental health and is impacted by diet, exercise, stress, environmental factors – pollution, toxins – and chronic conditions.
As we age, all sorts of things happen to our bodies. We lose muscle mass, our bones become more brittle and our metabolism slows. We are more at risk for heart disease, cancer, arthritis and other chronic diseases. While it is impossible to stop your age on the calendar, you can slow down or reverse the process of aging by adopting healthy lifestyle habits.
There is a really neat website called ShareCare – previously realage.com. It was created by Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is a well-respected expert on aging. The website is free to join and offers all sorts of information on healthy eating, exercise, stress management and lifestyle changes to improve your health and longevity. When you sign up, you first take a lifestyle habits test to determine your real age. Depending on your diet, exercise, habits such as smoking or drinking, stress levels and life balance, your real age can be older or younger than your calendar age. It takes about 20 minutes upon completion, and you are given a personalized plan for changes that can add more years to your real age.
I ran through it myself and my real age was calculated at 51 instead of my actual 59. The report said I could lose a few pounds, eat a few more veggies and whole grains, and lower my blood pressure to get even younger! In addition to the real age calculator, there are all kinds of information on getting more healthy.
As we age there are all sorts of things that are beyond our control. For men it is inevitable that as they lose hair on their heads it will magically sprout in their ears or nostrils and for women… well I won’t go there. We do, however, have the ability to affect our real age by making healthy lifestyle choices and sticking to them. So the next time you start to get sad about the next big birthday milestone, pay more attention to your real age. Besides, statistics show that people who have the most birthdays live the longest!
Kathy Hansen has more than 30 years of experience in the health and fitness field. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]